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STI additions soon for Subaru BRZ, but no power boost

Coming soon: Subaru displayed this BRZ with STI additions at the Australian International Motor Show last October.

Subaru Australia confirms STI add-ons, but no power upgrades or cabriolet imminent

Subaru logo21 Mar 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

SUBARU Australia will offer ‘STI’ cosmetic enhancements on the popular BRZ coupe within months, according to managing director Nick Senior.

When asked about the likelihood of an STI-honed version of the low-slung two-door coupe, Mr Senior said the answer lay not in a WRX STI-style performance boost, but rather referred to some aggressive cosmetic additions.

These would include “things like wheels, bodykit pieces, a gear lever, things like that,” he said.

“There’s a BRZ with some STI ‘bits’, if you like, that we have sought (government) approval on, and the approval is the first step in the process in how we then bring them in, how we’re going to sell them, and what are we going to sell,” Mr Senior said.

“So yes, we’re working towards selling them as accessories in future ... Though there’s no extra engine performance, its more dress-up items.”

The news comes five months after the company previewed a concept BRZ with Subaru Tecnica International (STI) enhancements at last year’s Australian International Motor Show.

That car picked up STI additions including front- and side spoiler, boot lip spoiler, a flexible bar reinforcing the struts (similar to the STI performance pack for the WRX), different 17-inch alloy wheels, a coil spring set, quick-shift gear lever, sports muffler, push-button start switch, rear diffuser and revised instrument panel trim.

Mr Senior said the body additions would likely be available within a “couple of months”, but that the company had not decided how it would distribute them. The BRZ poses a unique case, as it is sold almost exclusively online – something unique in Australian motoring.

“We haven't sorted out what the channel will be for these, whether it’s a complete pack, separate pack, dealers buy it, customers buy it, if it’s online or through dealers,” he said.

While Subaru fans should welcome the option of factory add-ons, the car-maker’s latest move gives less insight into speculation that Subaru and Toyota are working on hotter versions of their respective 147kW/205Nm BRZ and 86 twins.

This speculation has covered almost every feasible option including supercharging (possibly a better option under the crowded bonnet), turbocharging, or even a formula one-style hybrid-electric system.

However, neither Japanese company has gone on record with their plans, if indeed there are any.

One derivation both companies have talked about is a soft-top cabriolet version, with Toyota revealing a production-ready 86 soft-top concept at this month’s Geneva motor show, and Subaru’s international representatives previously saying that such a car was feasible.

However, Mr Senior this week expressed reservations about a topless BRZ, telling GoAuto that it could be a step away from the coupe’s core charms – namely, its litheness and simple design.

“To me, the BRZ has been a runaway success because it focuses on a fairly basic agenda in terms of its reasonably low cost, light weight, performance nature and character,” he said.

“There has been all sorts of speculation around turbos and convertibles, (but) I am not aware of any changes that move the BRZ away from the basic recipe. Nor do I think that a convertible is in keeping with the original concept.

“You start to potentially add weight for body stiffening, and the beauty of the BRZ is its performance, light weight and power-to-weight ratio.

“As soon as you start going away from that, putting bigger bakes, suspension, stiffening, you start to mess with a pretty successful recipe.

“To be honest – and I get it, I understand why Toyota want to do it – but to me the pureness of the BRZ is its magic, and I don’t see a cabrio offering the pure sports enjoyment of the BRZ.”

Mr Senior confirmed demand for the BRZ coupe was still hot, with a waiting list until around June. He said the company was ordering cars on a customer-order basis and still selling them exclusively online.

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